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3. All things were made by him. Having affirmed that the Speech is God, and having asserted his eternal essence, he now proves his Divinity from his works. And this is the practical knowledge, to which we ought to be chiefly accustomed; for the mere name of God attributed to Christ will affect us little, if our faith do not feel it to be such by experience. In reference to the Son of God, he makes an assertion which strictly and properly applies to his person. Sometimes, indeed, Paul simply declares that all things are by God, (Romans 11:36) but whenever the Son is compared with the Father, he is usually distinguished by this mark. Accordingly, the ordinary mode of expression is here employed, that the Father made all things by the Son, and that all things are by God through the Son. Now the design of the Evangelist is, as I have already said, to show that no sooner was the world created than the Speech of God came forth into external operation; for having formerly been incomprehensible in his essence, he then became publicly known by the effect of his power. There are some, indeed, even among philosophers, who make God to be the Master-builder of the world in such a manner as to ascribe to him intelligence in framing this work. So far they are in the right, for they agree with Scripture; but as they immediately fly off into frivolous speculations, there is no reason why we should eagerly desire to have their testimonies; but, on the contrary, we ought to be satisfied with this inspired declaration, well knowing that it conveys far more than our mind is able to comprehend.
And without him was not any thing made that was made. Though there is a variety of readings in this passage, yet for my own part, I have no hesitation in taking it continuously thus: not any thing was made that was made; and in this almost all the Greek manuscripts, or at least those of them which are most approved, are found to agree; besides, the sense requires it. Those who separate the words, which was made, from the preceding clause, so as to connect them with the following one, bring out a forced sense: what was made was in him life; that is, lived, or was sustained in life. 1313 The difference of readings lies wholly in the punctuation, and the dispute is, whether the words ὃ γέγονεν shall form the conclusion of the Third, or the commencement of the Fourth verse. Calvin expresses his concurrence with the majority of manuscripts, which connect the words in question with the Third verse thus Καὶ χωρὶς αὐτοῦ ἐγένετο οὐδὲ ἓν ὃ γέγονεν, and without him was not any thing made, (or, more literally, as well as more emphatically,) and without him was not one thing made which was made. Other manuscripts, certainly of no great authority, connect them with the Fourth verse: Καὶ χωρὶς αὐτοῦ ἐγένετο οὐδὲ ἓν Ο γέγονεν ἐν αὐτῷ ζωὴ ᾖν And without him was not one thing made What was made was in him life. The preference given by our Author rests on grounds which can scarcely be questioned. — Ed But they will never show that this mode of expression is, in any instance, applied to creatures. Augustine, who is excessively addicted to the philosophy of Plato, is carried along, according to custom, to the doctrine of ideas; that before God made the world, he had the form of the whole building conceived in his mind; and so the life of those things which did not yet exist was in Christ, because the creation of the world was appointed in him. But how widely different this is From the intention of the Evangelist we shall immediately see.
I now return to the former clause. This is not a faulty redundancy, (περιττολογία) as it appears to be; for as Satan endeavors, by every possible method, to take any thing from Christ, the Evangelist intended to declare expressly, that of those things which have been made there is no exception whatever.